WASHINGTON (AP) — The morning-after pill is finally going over-the-counter.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, lifting all age limits on the emergency contraceptive.
The move came a week after the Obama administration ended months of back-and-forth legal battles by promising a federal judge that it would take that step.
Women's health advocates had pushed for easier access to post-intercourse birth control for more than a decade.
“Over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,” FDA drug chief Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement announcing the approval.
It wasn't clear how quickly Plan B One-Step would move from behind pharmacy counters to sit on drugstore shelves.
Until now, customers could buy that emergency contraception pill and competing generic versions without a prescription only if they proved to a pharmacist that they were 17 or older.
The FDA said the product will have to be repackaged to reflect the change; maker Teva Women's Health didn't immediately respond.
The FDA has not lifted age limits on competing generics.
In 2011, the FDA was preparing to allow over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives with no limits when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own scientists in an unprecedented move.
She said she worried that girls as young as 11 could use the pill with no supervision, a concern that President Barack Obama echoed.
In April, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman blasted that decision as putting politics ahead of science and ordered the FDA to allow unrestricted sales of emergency contraceptives. He said hardly any 11-year-olds would use the pill, which costs about $50. The Obama administration lost a round in the appeals court, too, before telling the judge it would approve the one-pill brand.
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